The Court Wants To Know: Is Stripping Art?

On Wednesday, the classily named strip club Nite Moves in Albany, upstate New York, was due in court to contest a claim for $124,000 in unpaid back taxes. The club’s defense was a novel one – that it should be tax-exempt because the unclothed gyrating it hosted inside its rather tatty-looking premises was in fact performance art. The evidence presented by the club included DVDs used to train the strippers, the claim that many had been trained in ballet and tap dancing, and even the testimony of a cultural anthropologist who had studied lap dancing in detail. The court is due to make its judgment later this month. Yet Nite Moves is not the first to claim that stripping is art. Over the past 10 years, burlesque performers and promoters ranging from Dita von Teese to male troupe the Bears have gained artistic credibility – and their own section in listings magazine Time Out – despite complaints that taking your clothes off for money is still stripping, however you, well, dress it up.

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